Early this year, a commission chaired by former US senators Warren Rudman and Gary Hart presented to the US Congress a report entitled "Road Map for National Security: Imperative for Change." This commission, the US Commission on National Security/ 21st Century, was chartered by Congress to produce "the most comprehensive examination of the structures and processes of the U.S. national security apparatus since the core legislation governing it was passed in 1947." Here's a passage from that report, presented to Congress several months before the WTC attacks:
"The combination of unconventional weapons proliferation with the persistence of international terrorism will end the relative invulnerability of the U.S. homeland to catastrophic attack. To deter attack against the homeland in the 21st century, the United States requires a new triad of prevention, protection, and response. Failure to prevent mass-casualty attacks against the American homeland will jeopardize not only American lives but U.S. foreign policy writ large. It would undermine support for U.S. international leadership and for many of our personal freedoms, as well. Indeed, the abrupt undermining of U.S. power and prestige is the worst thing that could happen to the structure of global peace in the next quarter century, and nothing is more likely to produce it than devastating attacks on American soil."
The report also includes a sophisticated analysis of how recent technological developments require a radical revision of 20th-century military doctrine:
the Internet age, for example, information technologies may be used to empower
communities and advance freedoms, but they can also empower political movements
led by charismatic leaders with irrational premises.
Such men and women in the 21st century will be less bound than those of the 20th by the limits of the state#, and less obliged to gain large industrial capabilities in order to wreck [sic] havoc. For example, a few people with as little as a $50,000 investment may manage to produce and spread a genetically-altered pathogen with the potential to kill millions of people in a matter of months. Clearly, the threshold for small groups or even individuals to inflict massive damage on those they take to be their enemies is falling dramatically."
The report then proposes solutions that go far beyond a simple reorganization of the Coast Guard and Border Patrol. The report outlines, in effect, a new vision of national security based on protecting, not weakening, parliaments and civil liberties:
"Congress is crucial, as well, for guaranteeing that homeland security is achieved within a framework of law that protects the civil liberties and privacy of American citizens. We are confident that the U.S. government can enhance national security without compromising established Constitutional principles. But in order to guarantee this, we must plan ahead. In a major attack involving contagious biological agents, for example, citizen cooperation with government authorities will depend on public confidence that those authorities can manage the emergency. If that confidence is lacking, panic and disorder could lead to insistent demands for the temporary suspension of some civil liberties. That is why preparing for the worst is essential to protecting individual freedoms during a national crisis."
It also calls for a defense of the nation-state against the vision of "Globalism Triumphant:"
"But the Globalism Triumphant scenario divides opinion, partly because it is the hardest to envision, and partly because it functions as a template for the projection of conflicting political views. Some observers, for example, believe that the end of the nation-state is upon us, and that this is a good thing, for, in this view, nationalism is the root of racism and militarism. The eclipse of the national territorial state is at any rate, some argue, an inevitable development given the very nature of an increasingly integrated world."
"We demur. To the extent that a more integrated world economically is the best way to raise people out of poverty and disease, we applaud it. We also recognize the need for unprecedented international cooperation on a range of transnational problems. But the state is the only venue discovered so far in which democratic principles and processes can play out reliably, and not all forms of nationalism have been or need be illiberal. We therefore affirm the value of American sovereignty as well as the political and cultural diversity ensured by the present state system. Within that system the United States must live by and be ready to share its political values-but it must remember that those values include tolerance for those who hold different views."
full text of the Hart-Rudman report is available at the US House of Representatives
Web site at:
The response of the US media to these authoritative,
profound and shocking statements by a distinguished commission given a charter
of historic scope?
Nothing. They went entirely unreported. On September 13, Arianna Huffington wrote in Salon.com: "At the time the report came out, the media were too busy ferreting out the latest info on the supposed defacing of the White House by Gore loyalists and, later, on Gary Condit, over-age Little Leaguers and shark attacks ... But after Sept. 11, it seems fair to say that the real danger to Americans isn't shark attacks. And the sad fact is that the media should have known what the real danger was -- and should have told us ... In our modern, information-drenched times, the power of the media has increased as dramatically as the number of people wielding that power has shrunk. We are at their mercy. They set the agenda, they decide what we as a nation should be concentrating on. The First Amendment wasn't intended as a license to make billions. It was there to guarantee that the people stay informed.
And when the media fail at this job, we all suffer." (http://www.salon.com/news/col/huff/2001/09/13/media/index.html)
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